Acceptance vs Assertion

Mountain landscape with hiking trail and view of beautiful lakes Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal. (Mountain landscape with hiking trail and view of beautiful lakes Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal., ASCII, 118 compI’ve been thinking a bit recently about finding the balance between accepting things as they are and going with the flow and asserting your will or pushing for what you want. There’s a balance. There’s a time and a place for both, but the more I accept and go with the flow, the more things seem to work out better.

I was on a long-haul flight recently, flying BA from London to Sydney. During the second leg of the flight, after refuelling in Singapore, my TV screen wasn’t working. That meant I couldn’t watch the movie I was so looking forward to watching that would help pass the time over the next 7 and a half hours.

The air stewardess tried resetting the screen a few times, but it just didn’t work. I thought, ‘Oh well, a great opportunity to get on with some study and meditation’. She actually really appreciated the fact that I didn’t get upset or annoyed in the slightest. I just smiled and thanked her for trying. In gratitude for my seemingly relaxed and accepting attitude, she handed me a couple of mini-bottles of red wine. So, I got on with some studying that I really needed to do. It turns out that it was exactly the right thing as I made a few insights that I hadn’t made before that were really important.

A few hours later came meal time. They didn’t have any vegetarian meals (we were supposed to pre-order, but I hadn’t realised). The air stewardess (a different one) apologised. Again, I decided not to resist things and just go with the flow. Fasting is actually really healthy, so I accepted the fact that I’d do a kind of mini-fast. She seemed relieved that I didn’t make a fuss. Oh, and she also gave me a couple of mini bottles of red wine by way of apology.

About half an hour later, she appeared with a dish that she’d ‘borrowed’ from business class. It was really good – a tasty mushroom pasta dish that wasn’t available in economy class (coach), where I was seated. Since I had been so nice about it, she did everything she could to find me some food. Later, when we were being offered a sandwich before landing, she apologised once again, this time at the lack of vegetarian sandwiches. The first stewardess (of the TV screen) was in the opposite aisle and overheard. She quickly walked to the font of the plane and back again with a really lovely veggie sandwich for me.

Sometimes, we fight to get ourselves heard, or to get what we imagine we deserve and, granted, there are times when that is the right thing to do. I personally find, though, that when I don’t resist and look instead for the opportunity or hidden meaning in what’s happening, if I just shrug, accept, and get on with things, I find that things tend to work out better.

Acceptance in both instances brought me something better than the original thing I could have fought for. I got a lovely meal and a sandwich, great insights from my studies, accumulated 4 mini-bottles of red wine, and I brought a relieved and grateful smile to some faces due to my attitude.

Part of acceptance, for me, comes from a belief that we are always being nudged, directed, drawn (call it what you will) towards things that are best for us. That’s my belief, but it’s useful to have beliefs about what acceptance means for us, even if it’s just a belief that every cloud has a silver lining.

Some people find it useful to seek a deeper meaning in what’s happening, others find it a spiritual challenge to be able to accept and not resist; rising to the challenge of acceptance helps them shrug off seemingly challenging situations or even losses.

Acceptance can be also be about letting go of things. Buddhists talk of the law of impermanence, that all things are transient and must change. Everything must change. Everything evolves and grows, even you. People have to accept the changes in you, lest you feel pressured to remain the same for them. And so, you must also allow others to grow and change as they need to. As the Buddhists say, ‘Things come. Let them. Things go. Let them’.

Change is actually the only constant in the entire universe.

Change is inevitable … except from a vending machine.

17 thoughts on “Acceptance vs Assertion

  1. Trevor

    Brilliant as usual. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Paul

    Very well said David and thanks for sharing your flight story – I really appreciate how you decided to respond vs. react, and in doing so bringing such beautiful kindness to the flight attendants whose days you probably made. Keep the inspiration coming and happy travels!

  3. Carol Allan

    Aww thanks for this amazing input David sometimes we have to let go even though it’s killing us to let go if I make sense to you? The universe always has our back! I wish you a lovely day!

  4. Lovely blog David.

    Great examples of trusting and flowing good old BA

    Letting go and trusting the flow of the universe is so wonderful it’s just our mind that gets In the way. I would love to interview you for my podcast kitty talks please get in touch if you feel called.

  5. Thank you David. A topic I have really been questioning myself and a perfect example. I was smiling at the idea of you drinking red wine on an empty stomach! Then you burst my bubble and said you’d accumulated them!!! I should have known

  6. Gwin Goodwin

    Fabulous. Acceptance is now my word of the day after reading this.

  7. Anne

    What a brilliant outcome! I am learning acceptance and finding the energetic flow I am in far better now 🙂 Sometimes I lapse as I’m perfectly imperfect 😉 every day is a school day

  8. Kathy

    Dear David,
    Thank you for this post and also the one on Instagram yesterday but equally inspiring and something I’m working on.
    It’s a process but the more I practice none grasping and surrender to the situation whatever it be something miraculous happens.
    Thank you
    Kathy ❤️

  9. Loved it David!
    Trust you are well and hope you enjoyed your red wine……life is a celebration!
    You “maximised your moment” and I believe that’s what brings most joy & contentment.
    Love from the land of Soul Success xxxx

  10. This is the article I’ve been looking for! I’ve always wondered about this. I’ve always been more of an accelerator queen but have realised how that pushes against life and wears you out. But then I thought it’s counter productive to be ‘oming’ all the time. We do need to take action. I love the saying 50% Buddha 50% Beyoncé. I try to live by that. Thanks for this article. What will you do with all that red wine?

  11. I love this! And think one important factor is for us to never believe that the seemingly ‘negative’ events we live through, have any bearing on our self worth.
    As well as your looking for the opportunity that each situation provided, in my opinion it was also key not to feel victim to them. If our self-worth remains strong, The Universe can honour that and we’ll benefit accordingly xx

  12. Tommy

    I agree 100% now I have to practise it.

  13. Like this article David – it reminds me of an 8 year period where I worked with a practising Buddist. These were the best personal development years of my life. As a result – I try to be accepting, but a question – at what point does accepting become a licence for people to think they can do what they like and you’ll not react?

    I also find that you get more than what you would have done by not accepting and causing a scene. Great discussion!

  14. Janice Enzone

    Yes, this was a wonderful example of acceptance. So beautifully written. Thank you for sharing it. Acceptance sometimes seems tricky. Eckhart Tolle says when we have difficult accepting, “Accept the fact that you cannot accept.”.
    Thank you for the kind work you do. I’ve listened to you talk with the lovely Anita Moorjani & it’s just wonderful.

  15. Linda Hughes

    Hi David,
    Lovely story and full of meaning.
    From your first “How your life can heal your body”

  16. Christina Hurst-Prager

    Dear David
    This is absolutely also my experience ‍♀️ with love

  17. lynne

    Great post, brings to mind Michael Singer’s experiences in The Surrender Experiment.

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